November 29, 2006

I Love Japanese Class.

For whatever reason, I have just gotten such a charge out of taking Japanese lessons. Of course, I’ve been interested in all things Japanese since I was 10 years old, but actually taking the time to learn the language properly instead of relying on the little bits I’ve picked up from watching anime and listening to music is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. Maybe I should have done this a lot earlier, but it has otherwise been a pretty rough time as of late, so having this going on right now is likely a good thing. It has really become the highlight of my week.

Not only have I taken to the lessons themselves, but over the past few weeks the class itself has really gelled together and become a very fun environment. Some of us are at different levels, but we all have a good time and have gotten to know eachother a little better. While talking about Japanese movies during the break at class last night, one of the other students, who is an older gentleman, mentioned that in the 60’s he had the fortune of meeting the legendary actor Toshiro Mifune! That was pretty incredible!

One of the students asked about the proper Japanese verb to use regarding using the Internet, and so I asked if they say “Surfing” the Internet, since I had seen a TV show where a girl asked a guy about his hobbies, and he says Net Surfing, and she misheard him and actually thinks he likes surfing.

“Ahh, Densha Otoko?” said my sensei. Of course, I was indeed referring to that very program, and I think it’s just so cool that she had seen it too.

I saw one of the other students with a sketchbook that had a bunch of sketches by professional comic artists that he likely collected at conventions over the years, along with some of his own work. I jumped in and took out my colour portfolio with some of my own artwork, and soon it was being passed around the whole class. When my sensei took a look she was pretty amazed that I had drawn all of that, and she recognized some of the anime fan art I had done. But when she got to my Black Jack piece she stopped and said that she loved that character! Then we started talking about Black Jack and other classic series like Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. My sensei is so awesome!

Next week’s class is the last one of the year. It seems like it’s ending way too soon for me. But another, more advanced class is going to start in January, and I will totally be there.


Here’s a bunch more pictures from the Transformers Classics line, plus some others for comparison sake. These should have hit most stores all over the US and Canada by now, though my fellow Canadians will probably have better luck at Toys R Us than anywhere else.

Transformers The Movie: 2.0

Classics Rodimus is joined here by Cybertron Blurr, who fits in really well with the classics aesthetic. In front we have Energon Arcee and Cybertron Breakdown GTS, who being the crazy old man character and getting a new blue colour scheme is an obvious homage to Kup. Come on Hasbro, make us a new version of Springer so we can round out the ’86 movie cast.

So many Starscreams

This is Classics Starscream standing in between his Armada and Cybertron counterparts. Why Cybertron Starscream was never released at that size in his proper colours, I do not know, but I digress. Both of those toys are much larger than the Classics version in the middle, seeing as they are at a higher price point, but still, as nice as the Classic version is, it would have even better if it were at least a little bit taller in robot mode. It does pretty much look exactly like the original Starscream though, even though it transforms completely differently.

Hot Cars

Notice a theme here? I think this is a cool picture, if perhaps a bit obsessive. You can’t really blame Hasbro for using and reusing this same colour scheme again and again. It works. From left to right we have Cybertron Excillion, Energon Rodimus, Classics Rodimus, Armada Powerlinx Hot Shot, and Robots in Disguise Super SideBurn.

Hot Bots

And here they are in robot mode. Again, it seems like the new Classics line suffers a little when it comes to size when compared to other recent Transformers lines. I guess it’s supposed to make up for it in complexity, because the Transformations are a bit more involved than they typically have been (with the exception of SideBurn on the right, who takes a bloody engineering degree to change back and forth). I typically don’t care much about complexity as long as the robot mode looks cool, but I do appreciate a good transforming robot when I get one.

The Ultimate Battle, noobs!

Also new is this “Ultimate Battle” 2-pack including a very Generation 1 inspired Optimus Prime, a somewhat Generation 2 inspired Megatron, and a DVD. Optimus really sucks in his truck mode, and has this floppy spinning punch gimmick in robot mode, but I like him better than everyone else seems to. He’s got this gangster-looking tommy gun, which is awesome. Megatron is pretty cool, and is the better toy of the 2 despite having a spinning weapon instead of a hand on one arm. The DVD is sort of a recap of the previous 3 Transformers anime series, with narration by Gary Chalk explaining the origins of the Transformers and the battle between Autobots and Decepticons. I thought it was pretty fun and it serves as a great introduction to Transformers for kids. I recommend the set more as a gift for a young fan than as something the older collector would enjoy, but so what? Buy it anyway.


November 18, 2006

R.I.P Ken Ishikawa.

Earlier this week in Japan, Ken Ishikawa, co-creator of the classic anime Getter Robo, suddenly and tragically passed away.

Ken Ishikawa was the protege to Go Nagai, creator of Mazinger Z, Devilman, and Cutie Honey. While Go Nagai is often credited with creating Getter Robo among the other franchises he gave birth to, he was not alone in this particular case. Ken Ishikawa did much of the work on Getter. I have a translated manga from back in the days when everything was flopped and published in the traditional comic book size of “Venger Robo“, which was essentially the English version of the “Getter Robo Gomanga. The credits are story by Go Nagai and art by Ken Ishikawa.

Getter Robo was pretty much the very first ever transforming robot, formed by 3 jets which could combine in different sequences to become one of 3 different super robots. If it were not for Getter Robo, there would probably be no Transformers, or Voltron, or anything else of that nature. That makes Getter Robo an extremely important part of popular culture pretty much anywhere around the world where people like robots.

I always thought that Getter was really cool. The 3 pilots were awesome, hot-blooded characters that helped to define a tradition. The robots and monsters were always very unique and creative. The two classic series are a lot of fun, and the more modern versions, Getter Robo Armageddon, Shin Getter vs Neo Getter, and New Getter Robo, are insane! This is a franchise that will continue to thrive for a long, long time. It will be remade and re-imagined for years to come, and will always remain a classic.



November 9, 2006

Nothing Beats a Classic.

It’s a good time to be an old-school Transformers fan right now. Not that I would classify myself as one, since I tend to enjoy the newer entries into the franchise a lot more than the original. But still, I was around back then, so I know the score.

The new 20th Anniversary Edition of the Transformers Movie came out on DVD yesterday. I watched through it today and it’s a very comprehensive package. The picture quality is the best that this movie has ever seen, with very vibrant colour and effects. The disk includes the full screen version, and for the first time ever, a widescreen presentation. It seems like the widescreen version was cropped from the full screen print, which is likely how the film was originaly shown in theaters, but it still works well compositionally. There are tons of extras, including nostalgic old commercials, trailers, the Japanese exclusive episode “Scramble City”, and a little bit of a preview for the upcoming live action film. It’s not a great movie, when you get right down to it, but I couldn’t help to smile while watching it again for what has to have been the 100th time by now. It’s probably my favorite part of the first generation of Transformers. This DVD completely blows away the DVD released by Rhino years back, and it’s totally worth getting if you’re a major Transformers fan, or even just somebody with fun childhood memories.

Transformers Classics

Also out now are the Transformers Classics line of toys. These are brand new figures based on the classic characters. I picked up Starscream and Rodimus. They are both really good. It’s cool to see these classic characters return in a more traditional design but with modern technology going into making them. I’ll put up some more pictures in a future post.


November 6, 2006

You call that a CHALLENGE?

I got this e-mail a few weeks ago, and I figured I should share it.

I read your whole thing. I agreed with what you said,but your pics did suck. why don’t you get lessons. seriously you need to stop or improve. If you want to see some good pics E-mail me
Wow! My pics did suck, did they? I need to get lessons, do I? Just imagine how shocked and appalled this person would be if they had stuck around this website for long enough to know that I, in fact, give drawing lessons as a job! Stop or improve: Such incredible advice! Just think about how many people spend so much money on art classes when that is the only thing they need to know!

So, I can only assume that the person who wrote this is referring to the classic “Stupid People HATE Ninjatron!” article. I can’t imagine what else the original post could be referring to, and it does not appear that this person ventured any farther than that, as this e-mail was written as if that article was the only thing I’ve ever done. It is amusing that this person agreed with me and still found it necessary to write those insults. But what is really amusing is that, since I can only assume that this person didn’t look at anything else on the website, the only pics that this person ever saw were the ones included in that article… which are supposed to suck! They were obviously drawn that way on purpose as part of an ironic statement of self-parody that completely flew over this bozo’s head.

But most interesting is the challenge at the very end. Well, of course I want to see some good pics! So I did send an e-mail, stating that I assumed the pics in question were, in fact, drawn by this person who wrote to me. And yes, I did get some pictures, and I asked for permission to show them to all of my fans. So here they are!

Some Good Pics


Come on, you can’t compare the fully rendered digital paintings that I do to these simple icons. Yes, they are nice, and there is nothing wrong with them, but who cares? They’re not even in the same category as what I do. And I even thing that some of the purposely sucky drawings I did for that article are more artistically interesting than any of these. Furthermore, I seriously, seriously doubt that the person who wrote to me is actually the artist behind these images, since this sort of thing can be found all over the internet. And with that in mind it’s possible that neither of these three pictures was done by the same artist at all. But still, good try. While I am not going to encourage it, I do admit that it is nice to have this sort of nonsense appear every once in awhile. It gave me a laugh